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The following essay by Pascal Wagner was first published in issue 95 of the wonderful Unwinnable Monthly.

You should think playing Nazi shooter Wolfenstein: The New Order while living in Germany must feel alarming. The whole concept of the game is to mock your own past, after all. And who likes to be mocked, even more so by one of the parties who put your country back into place after it ventured into the abyss? It has to be humiliating.

But let me tell you: it isn't. Experiencing a fictional Third Reich dystopia like Wolfenstein's is fantastic. It feels incredibly healthy, not only because playing a good game is fun in itself. The game conveys a message that can be very hard to understand for people not socialized in Germany.

Bridging Worlds is artist Eron Rauch’s ongoing series of in-depth articles on the curious places of connection between video games, contemporary art, and culture.

After a 24 year break from playing Civilization, my friends recently roped me into trying the new Civilization 6. For reference, the last time I had played a Civ game was in 1993. I was 12 and didn’t even have a computer with a color screen at home. After stumbling around the overwhelmingly massive campus of new junior high, my proclivity for reading Dragonlance novels at lunch accidentally made me a new friend who would open the geeky technicolor doors for me.

Let’s call him J.T., and after bonding over our mutual love of 20-sided dice, Robotech, and the number 42, our daily after-school ritual became to head to his conveniently located house. Yeah, it smelled like cat pee, but his mom always brought us nacho cheese dip made with Velveeta and taco seasoning packs so that evened out. But the main attraction was that JT’s family had a full-on computer room in the basement, the lair of a towering beige beast with a massive 15-inch 256 color monitor.

We’d fail our way through Eye of the Beholder’s early stages (too hard); try to pick fights in Star Trek: 25th Anniversary (too boring); and eventually settle into the original Civilization for a long afternoon of mayhem. Nothing could cause more squeals of laughter from us than playing as Gandhi and rushing for nuclear missiles and blowing up the world.

DEEP-ROOTED GAMES is series of four interviews with four game developers from four different continents who looked for narrative inspiration and found it in unusual places: In the folklore of their own people, region or family, and in other storytelling-corners of the world which are too often neglected by the mainstream.

DEEP-ROOTED GAMES is series of four interviews with four game developers from four different continents who looked for narrative inspiration and found it in unusual places: In the folklore of their own people, region or family, and in other storytelling-corners of the world which are too often neglected by the mainstream.

DEEP-ROOTED GAMES is series of four interviews with four game developers from four different continents who looked for narrative inspiration and found it in unusual places: In the folklore of their own people, region or family, and in other storytelling-corners of the world which are too often neglected by the mainstream.

Jim Rossignol used to be a games journalist before he ventured into games development with Sir, You Are Being Hunted. Now, his studio Big Robot is working on The Signal From Tölva, a single-player FPS set on an alien planet. I wrote about this promising project for Der Standard; here’s my full interview with Jim.

You have made the switch from writing about video games to creating them. How did that happen?

Gradually. In 2010 I worked on a project commissioned by Channel 4, and ended up forming a small games studio to get the game - an educational puzzler called Fallen City (sadly now defunct) - designed, produced and published. With the money left over from that, plus a Kickstarter in 2012, we raised the money for Sir, You Are Being Hunted. I didn’t work full time on that, because we needed to pay the designer, programmer and artists, and so I remained a writer at Rock, Paper, Shotgun through most of its development. Fortunately it did well enough that I was able to work full time for past two years on our new game, The Signal From Tölva. It has only being during that period that I’ve really considered myself to be a game creator, although the switch still remains sort of opaque to me, perhaps because of how slowly it has happened..

Games can be more than mere entertainment. In our column Alt+Home, intermedia artist Kent Sheely explores the ways independent developers are challenging the status quo, creating brand new experiences, and making a difference in the world.

October is an important time for the brave souls who spend the 30 days leading up to Halloween indulging in as much spine-tingling, heart-pounding horror as they can survive. Every year I like to set aside some time to play some of the spooky indie games I haven’t yet had the chance to savor, but with so many to choose from across so many various outlets, it can be a daunting task just figuring out where to look! If you’ve got a full schedule and just don’t have time to choose, not to worry; I’ve picked out a selection of my favorites, and I’ll tell you why I think they’re worth adding a few gray hairs to your head.

Bridging Worlds is artist Eron Rauch’s ongoing series of in-depth articles on the curious places of connection between video games, contemporary art, and culture. This is the final part of a four-part essay on The Beginner's Guide - the previous parts can be found here

“It’s hard to create a narrative of success when you’re the dark matter against which the stars shine, but I find that it’s important for artists to be able to articulate what is valuable about art beyond prices and the market.” -William Powhida

Continuing last week’s discussion of the The Beginner’s Guide as an attempt to trigger an apocalypse to wipe clean the slate of video games, it is useful to note that in Japanese creation circles, there is a genre of animation and comics called sekaikei (literally: “world type”). This genre places a single character, almost always male and young, as the center agent in the future apocalypse. This character’s psyche alone gets to remake the world, but only as it burns to ashes. The interior becomes the all-consuming exterior. While perhaps the capstone of this genre, Neon Genesis Evangelion is unique that that it leverages the dark logic of fandom to subvert its perfect apocalypse and decry the passivity and literalism that threatened to stifle the future of anime fandom.

Bridging Worlds is artist Eron Rauch’s ongoing series of in-depth articles on the curious places of connection between video games, contemporary art, and culture. This is the third part of a four-part essay on The Beginner's Guide - part one and two can be found here

“One of the greatest things about being an artist is, as you get older, if you keep working hard in relationship to what you want the world to be and how you want it to become, there is a history of interesting growth that resonates with different moments in your life.“ -Catherine Opie

In last week’s installment of “Sin, Apocalypse, Cash” I discussed ways that replaying The Beginner’s Guide provides expanded choices for audiences to interact with the game, and how those supposed choices are still mired in a simplistic and antisocial framework for art. Yet, let’s approach The Beginner’s Guide again from another angle to see if there is perhaps another, less obvious, social interface that is happening.

Bridging Worlds is artist Eron Rauch’s ongoing series of in-depth articles on the curious places of connection between video games, contemporary art, and culture. This is the second part of a four-part essay on The Beginner's Guide - part one can be found here

“Why, impervious to both affirmation and negation, why in the world this insistent, subsistent, irrepressible, pure repetition be it of nothing, why a picture? Why this picture?” -Jacques Roubaud “Some Thing Black”

In the first portion of this essay I examined why players of The Beginner’s Guide often perceive the game to be a trap, and the ways in which the game’s internal logic leads it to formulate art as martyrdom. But what if I’m approaching the game from the wrong angle? What if I overly focused on the naive macho egotistical vision of art and the purifying flames of antisocial creative angst? There certainly seems to be a radically alternative way to approach the game in a second play-through.